Sportsmith Blog
4Sep/120

National Yoga Month Starts Now

National Yoga Month Starts Now

National Yoga Awareness Month is on the doorstep! Starts September 1, 2012.  Hundreds of Yoga events around the world are taking place to celebrate the role of Yoga in healthy living and to introduce new people to Yoga. If you have ever been curious about Yoga, this September is the perfect time to discover how Yoga can open the door to lifelong health benefits.

Events
Yoga studios across the nation are opening their doors to celebrate National Yoga Awareness Month. Some are planning special displays and exhibitions.

Yoga Aid Challenge
This September 9, Yoga studios around the world are celebrating the joy of Yoga by fundraising for a cause. The Yoga Relay will follow the sun around the world, starting at Sydney, Australia, and ending at sunset in Los Angeles.
More than 200 Yoga events are planned for this day alone. Many of them will feature some of the premier Yoga teachers in each community. Thanks to the miracle of time zones, MC Yogi will be able to participate in both the opening and closing events of the 2012 Yoga Aid Challenge.
Since this event first began in 2006, the Yoga Aid Challenge has raised $1.2 million for charities around the world. This year, organizers hope to raise $1 million. The funds raised during this event will go to local charities, many of which are involved in smaller, community-driven projects.

Global Mala Yoga for Peace
On September 20 through 23, the global Yoga community will unite to form a "mala around the earth." The mala and its 108 beads is symbolic of the prayer for peace, hope, and charity.
The events of a Yoga mala will differ by Yoga tradition and inspiration. Typical events during a Yoga mala may include 27, 56, or 108 sun salutations, or 108 minutes of meditation, kirtan, or movement meditation. Some Yoga centers will also add community service as part of their global mala events.
Most centers will time their early events this year for September 19 or 20, to match the fall equinox and give a strong lead-up to World Peace Day on September 21. Many will also have major global mala events on the September 22-23 weekend. Check with your local Yoga centers for details.

The Time for Yoga
National Yoga Awareness Month winds up on September 30 with another worldwide celebration of Yoga. At 7 pm local time, Yoga students around the world will participate together in an hour of Yoga practice, followed by 15 minutes of savasana and a 15-minute meditation for universal peace and well-being. In this way, a wave of Yoga will flow around the world to bid the sun farewell at the end of National Yoga Awareness Month.

Different Types of Yoga
Yoga is an extremely ancient concept. It is mentioned in writings as old as the Bhagavad Gita, where Yoga is divided into karma Yoga, Bakhti Yoga, and Jnana Yoga. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of action. Bhakti Yoga is the Yoga of devotion, although all Yogas are considered devotional. Jnana Yoga is the Yoga of knowledge. Hatha Yoga is the most familiar form of Yoga to most Americans. It develops strength, flexibility, and stillness of mind through physical postures ("asanas") which are designed to open the channels of the body so that energy can flow freely. The word "hatha" comes from the word for "forceful," as focused through physical exercises and applied willpower. It also has the balance of sun ("ha") and moon ("tha") which is essential for creating balance and uniting opposites. Many other types of Yogas are also practiced around the world. For example, you may see references to "eight-limbed Yoga" ("ashtanga Yoga"), which is the basis of modern Raja Yoga. These eight limbs cover all parts of lifestyle and spirit from right behaviors to proper breath control. Moksha Yoga is a form of Yoga which is practiced in very hot temperatures.

Wondering how to get started?
Making Yoga a part of your healthy lifestyle is easier than ever during National Yoga Awareness Month. Over 1,600 Yoga studios are offering a week of free introductions to Yoga, from beginner levels all the way to specialist branches of teacher training. Whether you want to try out a new branch of Yoga or have never tried Yoga before, you are certain to find a Yoga center event which is ideal for you.
Even the American government has gotten behind National Yoga Awareness Month. This National Health Observance has been marked by the Department of Health & Human Services to promote and educate the public about the health benefits of Yoga.
National Yoga Awareness Month is the perfect time to discover how Yoga can work for you. Commit a week to a free introduction to Yoga, invite Yoga into your life for a month, and discover the health benefits that will last you a lifetime.

How will you participate in National Yoga Month ?
(Write your comments below)

Additional Resources:
Yoga Mats
Yoga Props & Blocks
Yoga Straps

26Sep/110

Don’t Leave Your Gym without Trying the Yoga Straps

One of the best parts about yoga is that it can be done anywhere and without much equipment. It is truly a democratic routine. All you really need is a yoga mat, yoga blocks, and yoga straps. A good yoga mat is important because it will shield your feet and body from the ground. You will spend a lot of time on the ground, so it's important to be protected. Besides the yoga mat, yoga blocks and yoga straps can help lengthen your body. In the beginning, you may not be flexible enough to perform some of the poses. A yoga block or yoga straps allow you to perform the move without too much strain.

If you do decide to start a yoga program, you should conduct research and look for classes in your area. Gyms offer many different classes depending on style and experience level. For example, Bikram Yoga runs 90 minutes and consists of doing 26 poses in heat. If you can't make it to the gym and are doing it at home, there are some moves that you should absolutely consider trying out to feel the bull benefits of yoga.

  • Downward Dog strengthens your upper body and can help relieve lower back pain. Start with your knees and hands on the ground about shoulder length on the ground. Lift your knees off the ground until your legs are straight. Walk your hands a few inches forward and your feet a few inches back. Suck in your stomach and hang your head loosely. Hold for two minutes as you breathe deeply.
  • Warrior 1 will loosen the hips and put stress on the knees to strengthen them. Start in Downward Dog and lift your right leg off the ground. Make sure your leg is straight. Kick your right foot forward and go into runner's stance. Put your back foot down and slowly ascend your hands and chest until you're upright. Your hips and shoulder should be aligned. Hold for two minutes while breathing deeply and go back into Downward Dog to do the left leg.
  • Chair is the perfect exercise to work your glutes.  As your feet touch, raise your arms into the air. Drop your knees and sit back as if you were sitting on a chair. As you breathe, try to get so low that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Make sure your knees and thighs are touching Hold for two minutes or as long as possible as you breathe deeply enjoying the stretch.
28May/100

HOW YOGA CAN HELP YOU RETAIN MEMBERS

In today’s tight economy, even the large “too big to fail” businesses need to find new and innovative ways to get new customers and maintain the customers they already have. Gyms and are no exception. In fact, with the rise in popularity of home exercise DVDs and home workout systems, gyms have to try harder than ever to maintain their customer base.

Yoga isn’t one of those “flash in the pan” exercise programs that you hear about today and is gone in a month’s time. It’s an ancient system, over 5000 years old. Its original purpose was religious enlightenment, but today’s modern Yoga is primarily an exercise regimen. Yoga has retained its popularity through many of the new “revolutionary” exercise programs and devices. Remember the Thigh Master? Tae-Bo? The list goes on and on. Every year new regimens and equipment come out touting to be the next big thing that will reduce the time and effort of exercise while seemingly costing more and more. The beauty of Yoga is that it’s inexpensive in terms of equipment needed, and is a proven exercise method. Those things combined make it a great way to stay fit in a down economy.

One of the main positive aspects of Yoga that you can impress upon your members is its inexpensiveness. All a practitioner really needs is a Yoga mat and some appropriate clothing. Of course there are all kinds of equipment available, and any place that includes Yoga courses in its regimens should make this sort of equipment available for its members. This can either be “communal” equipment that any member can use, or you can offer certain pieces of equipment for sale as well. One popular method is to offer mats for members for free while other equipment, such as blocks and rollers, are for sale. This offers the basic equipment needed so new members aren’t intimidated, while offering other options to your existing members. Of course, after a while almost all of your members, whether old or new, will want their own Yoga mat, so you should make these available for sale as well.

Press upon your members the effectiveness of Yoga. Its low-impact style means that someone averse to exercises like jogging and weight-lifting can get a full workout without the muscle and joint strain common in many exercise regimens. Almost anyone can perform Yoga, even overweight or injured members. Perhaps put together a video montage of various athletes who incorporate Yoga into their own daily exercise (gymnasts and swimmers are particularly fond of Yoga). Of course, a good instructor is essential here, but due to Yoga’s current popularity, instructors should not be difficult to find.

Yoga’s current popularity among athletes and celebrities is also a great selling point. While you should avoid highlighting so-called “fad” exercise regimens, don’t undersell Yoga’s current popularity. Many members will always be looking for what is “in” as far as exercise is concerned, and Yoga is most definitely “in”.

Most any health club these days includes Yoga in their lineup. If yours doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to start! Everyone likes variety and options, and perhaps some of those members of your establishment would like to try something other than Pilates or Zumba. If that’s the case, Yoga’s slow pace and different mindset might make the perfect alternative.

22Jan/100

TOP 10 BENEFITS OF YOGA EXERCISE

Recently modern scientists and researchers have begun delving into the health benefits of an exercise program that’s over 5000 years old. That program is Yoga. Every day it seems that some new benefit is discovered, but here are the ones that are most important, and the reason most people take up Yoga in the first place.

FLEXIBILITY

This is probably the greatest and most obvious benefit of Yoga. The postures and positions (called Asanas) that Yoga places the body in will lead to much greater muscle and joint flexibility. For many years now, professional gymnasts and other athletes have used Yoga to help their overall flexibility and agility, and with Yoga’s current popularity, many others are now discovering the heightened muscle movement that comes from the exercises.

STRENGTH

Not only will Yoga make the body more flexible, it will also add more strength to the muscles and tendons. Again, many professional athletes perform Yoga to aid in their daily exercise, and bodybuilders and weightlifters are no exception. Keeping the body in certain positions for a certain period of time will strengthen the body. This has been known for thousands of years, by many cultures. Tai Chi Chuan, the traditional Chinese martial art and exercise form, uses a similar philosophy; maintaining prescribed positions for a period of time to strengthen muscles.

STRESS MANAGEMENT

While all the benefits of Yoga may truly never be known, this is one that anybody who’s ever practiced it will attest to. Yoga induces a feeling of inner calm and peace. Of course, this is what the traditional Yogis (one who practices Yoga) were aiming for, as Yoga was originally a religious path to enlightenment and inner peace. While modern Yoga focuses mostly on the exercise and health benefits, the other, less easily defined benefits still remain. Yoga is a perfect exercise for today’s busy lifestyle. We all need to manage the stress of daily life in some way, and what better way than something that will not only give you exercise and energy, but also calm and de-stress you in the process!

MUSCLE TONE

We all want to look good, that’s a given. There are literally thousands of exercise programs designed to help us burn fat and get in shape. Yoga practitioners have known of its toning properties for literally thousands of years. Along with a sensible diet, Yoga has been proven to burn fat and tone muscle, sometimes far more effectively than many of the “fly by night” exercise programs that seemingly pop up daily. While you won’t acquire the massive body of a bodybuilder, Yoga will help you to acquire a sleek, much more natural body tone than weightlifting will. There are even varieties of Yoga now that are considered “high intensity” that put the heart into the “fat burning zone”, and will help with weight reduction and fat loss.

PAIN REDUCTION

Many physical rehabilitation facilities are beginning to incorporate elements of Yoga into their exercise and training regimens. This is because Yoga has a bodily healing effect. While someone with an injury might not be able to perform all of the positions, some of even the most basic positions have a therapeutic effect on the body. This is especially true with upper and lower back pain, something that literally millions and millions of people suffer with daily. Yoga stretches and works muscles that might otherwise go unexercised, and those muscles in turn help to strengthen muscles and tendons that are strained or damaged in some way. Definitely check with your doctor before starting ANY exercise regimen when you are physically injured, however.

POSTURE

This is something most of us have trouble with. How many times when you were younger did your mother tell you to “sit up straight”? Well, Yoga can help you do just that. You will gain a greater understanding of your body’s overall posture, and the positions help keep muscles responsible for good posture strong and supple. You will slump your shoulders less, and you will come to understand your body’s center of gravity and how to maintain that center at all times, whether seated or standing.

HEIGHTENED ENERGY LEVELS

Most of us in today’s busy world need an energy boost now and again. Whether this is something artificial, like caffeine, or something natural, like the energy you gain from eating a piece of fruit, is a personal choice. Yoga gives you extra energy to get through your day without having to resort to outside means. Imagine being able to get through a hard day without those extra cups of coffee or cans of soda? Not only would that save you money, its overall better for your health. The fewer artificial things we ingest, the better!

PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS

Doctors have long known that mental health is at least as important as physical health for a person’s overall well-being. Many Yoga practitioners report that after an exercise session, they experience a feeling of calm, peace, and overall harmony and balance. Yoga’s original purpose was as a path to religious enlightenment, and mentioned earlier, some of the less defined benefits still remain. Though modern Yoga’s purpose is for exercise and bodily health, the psychological benefits cannot be denied.

EASE

Yoga is quite easy to perform. Unlike many exercises today that focus on elaborate equipment, large and clunky machines, or require a radio to blast loud music, Yoga needs only a scant few things for a person to practice it effectively. A “sticky” mat that allows you to maintain the positions without slipping is really all that is required. Some people need what are known as “Yoga straps” to help them maintain some of the more difficult positions as well. Both of these products are inexpensive and easily transportable and storable. While other products do exist, such as rollers, blocks, mats and gloves for the hands and feet to prevent slipping, they are all optional. The term “user friendly” certainly applies to Yoga, as almost anyone can do it, and the things you require are minimal.

BALANCE AND CORE STRENGTH

Recently, scientists and exercise professionals have discovered that having a strong “core” is essential to having a strong body. The “core” muscles work to support and stabilize the spine, pelvis, and abdominal region. Many exercise programs have been developed with strengthening these particular muscles as their primary focus (Pilates currently being the most popular). Yoga exercises these muscles along with other muscles, so you essentially get a workout that combines the best elements of other exercise programs. Since many of the positions also require you to balance the body in certain ways, Yoga will also help with learning and maintaining overall body balance. This benefit in particular is why many gymnasts perform Yoga regularly, as balance is essential to their sport.

The benefits of Yoga are many, and the ten listed here are just a sample of what Yoga can do for you, both physically and mentally. Of course, consult your instructor if you have any questions or concerns about what benefits you might gain from performing Yoga regularly.